Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

July 30, 2020

Postsecondary Success Notes | Keeping students on the path to a degree


As colleges and universities continue to adapt to a rapidly changing environment, I’ve been thinking a lot about the students who are most at risk of being pushed off their path to a certificate or degree.

One group I am concerned about is transfer students. More than one-third of today’s students attend more than one institution on their way to graduation. And we know that transfer students – many of whom are low-income and first-generation students and students of color – often face more challenges completing their education, typically because of lost credits and thus lost time and money.

That is why one of our priorities for COVID-19 response is student mobility – making the process of moving across institutions more student-centered by changing policies and practices. This is not a new issue – states and their colleges and universities have been working on transfer policy for decades. And it’s not just a community college issue – students move across four-year universities as well. Now it’s a more urgent issue as current and incoming students rethink their plans and students with some college but no degree consider returning to finish their programs.

Today’s students are on the move because they are more than students – they are workers, parents, caregivers, servicemembers, and more. Educational opportunity needs to move with them, now and well into the future.

Patrick Methvin